14 December 2017

Place of Power

Dmitry Kryakvin reports about decisive battles in Khanty-Mansiysk 

Now that the women’s tournament is over, the number of Russian Cup participants has plummeted down to two. The playhall is empty, and I wish it were at least a single knock-out for a bronze medal. 

Prior to cycle three there happened something akin to a mystery. An arbiter Roman Lavretsky was giving a lesson to the young Academy students on the subject of opposite-colored bishops. In the meanwhile, Lavretsky and Krjukov traded niceties: Krjukov maintained that chess category holders of the near Moscow region, growing under the strict coaching guidance of Sergey Nesterov, solve such positions in a virtually blindfold manner, while Lavretsky believed that his materials were so priceless as to form basis for the All-Russian seminar to be held in Serpukhov in a short while. However, a fact is a fact: one of the positions demonstrated by the expert showed up in game two of the Kokarev - Gordievsky semi-final (the first game ended in a draw).

Mikhail Krjukov and Roman Lavretsky are even wearing opposite-colored T-shirts


Kokarev – Gordievsky

Game two

51... Kc5?   

After the game, the junior Dmitry was very emotional about not having tried 51...Bd3!? 52.Kb4 Bb1, getting at opponent's pawns to Dvoretsky's instructions (the senior Dmitry confirmed that it looked like a draw). Now Kokarev automatically received a position from the "Lavretsky's course" and brought the game home easily.  

52.Ka4 Kc6 53.Ka5 Kb7 54.f4 Bd3 55.b4 Bf5 56.a4 Bc8 57.b5 axb5 58.axb5 

With the passed pawns separated by more than three files, there is absolutely no doubt about White’s being on the winning side. This is a clear case of two weaknesses in action.   

58…Kc7 59.Ba3 Kb7 60.Bd6 Bf5 61.Be5 Bd3 62.Kb4 Kb6 63.Bd4+ Kc7 64.Kc5 Be4 65.Be3 Bd3 66.b6+ Kd7 67.Kd5 Ba6 68.f5 Ke7 69.Ke5 Kd7 70.f6 Bc4 71.Kf5 Bf7 72.Kg5 Black resigns.  

As in the last year’s event, Kokarev’s opponent is Dmitry Jakovenko. The native of Nizhnevartovsk is obviously on the roll now, suffice it to mention his victory in Mallorca, along with a crushing qualifying blow delivered to the French chess leader Maxime Vachier-Lagrave, while the current rating of Jakovenko has hit 2742. “I wish the Cup final had more cycles, which would have definitely landed Jakovenko in the top ten!” - one of the local fans summed up with regret. Even so, the Yugra’s hero is now 22nd in the live rating, second in Russia only to Kramnik, Grischuk, Svidler, Karjakin and Nepomniachtchi. I hasten to congratulate the latter with a 4-0 score against a Norwegian guy, often seen wearing a jacket and jeans.  

Jakovenko has twice upset Evgeny Shaposhnikov. Shaposhnikov has failed to burn the house this time around.

Shaposhnikov - Jakovenko

Game one


Black has carried out a classical regrouping of pieces to highlight the weakness of White’s hanging pawns. Understanding that each subsequent move will bring more pressure against c4 and d4, the b1-knight being misplaced, Shaposhnikov makes up his mind to break through in the center.   

22.d5 exd5 23.Bxf6   

The winner later shared that he was slightly worried about 23.cxd5 in view of such lines as 23...Bxd5? 24.Rxc7 Qxc7 25.Bxf6 Bxb3 26.Rxd8+ Qxd8 27.Bxd8 Bxa2 28.Na3, leaving White up a piece and with excellent chances to convert or 23...Nxd5 24.Bxg7 Kxg7 25.Nc3 Rcd7 26.Ne4 f6 27.Qb2 with a powerful compensation for the pawn. However, he then recalled his intent to play 23…Rxd5!, leaving White down a pawn without any compensation for it.  

Shaposhnikov trades his bishop to keep the material balance, which marks transition into a technical phase.  

23...Bxf6 24.cxd5 Be8 25.Rxc7?!   

Tougher is 25.Rc4 to keep Black from advancing his queenside pawns. The text results in a gradual increase of edge for the rating favorite.  

25...Qxc7 26.Na3 Qc5 27.Nc2 b5 28.Qf3 Kg7 29.Ne3 h5 30.Qf4 Qd6 31.Qxd6 Rxd6, and Black's bishop pair coupled with a passed pawn did their black job.    

Jakovenko – Shaposhnikov

Game two



Leading 1:0, Dmitry declines 32.Qg4+ with a three-fold repetition. Saving the game after that would have taken Black to come up with 32...Qd1+ 33.Kg2 Rxe3 34.Rxa7 Kh6!? Evgeny immediately captures the e3-pawn, but it is a mirage - there is no perpetual there, and Jakovenko accepts the gift with pleasure.  

32...Rxe3? 33.fxe3 Qd1+ 34.Kf2 Qd2+ 35.Kf3 Qd1+ 36.Kf4 h5 37.h3! 

There are no sensible checks, and the white queen is in time to take up her defensive duties.   

37…Qd6+ 38.Kf3 Qd1+ 39.Kg2 Qc2+ 40.Kg1 Qb1+ 41.Kh2 Qxa2+ 42.Qg2, winning shortly after.  

The final 2016 match ended in Jakovenko's confident victory in the classical chess. However, we will soon see for ourselves whether the King of Armageddon and the third prize-winner of the Rapid Grand Prix will keep his black color intact in the upcoming classical game.

Dmitry Gordievsky and Evgeny Shaposhnikov with bronze medals

In the women’s tournament the final paired Baira Kovanova and Elena Tomilova. As tradition has it, the matchup took place in the women’s “place of gravity” located in the Yugra chess academy. The game was played on a table that saw Judit Polgar defeating a famous grandmaster, who now offers millions of Russians to make a knight’s move. Many years have passed, but many chess players still resort to an opportunity to recharge from the great Judit.  

The match outcome was sealed in game two. Tomilova was pressing out of the opening, but then White consolidated and her up a pawn advantage made itself known.

Kovanova – Tomilova

Game two

Black’s pieces are active, and in the case of 25.Bxa7 Qf4 26.g3 Qe4+the White king starts feeling the heat of the day. However, Black’s king has no luft at the moment, and Kovanova capitalizes on this circumstance.   

25.Rc5! h6 26.d6! Rxd6   

In the case of 26...Bxd6 27.Rd5 Qb8 28.Re1 (a hasty 28.Bf4 Bc7 only plays into Black’s hands) 28...Bc7 29.Rxd8+ Qxd8 30.Qxd8+ Bxd8 31.Bd4 Rb8 32.Bxa7 there arises a pawn up endgame for White, with bishops still on the board and the white rook posted behind the passed pawn. Elena Tomilova prefers keeping the queens on the board.  

27.Rc8+ Kh7 28.Qh5 Rg6?

An attempt to create counter threats fails, whereas after 28 ... Bf6 29.Qxf7 Qb3 30.Qf8 White keeps attacking the black king while retaining an extra pawn.  

29.Qxe5 Qb7 30.Rg1! Rb1 31.Rcc1, and the mating threats have been successfully dealt with - White went on to convert his up a bishop superiority.

It is for the sake of this photo that Dina Belenkaya lingered for two more days in Khanty-Mansiysk

Sharing about her victory, Baira objectively noted that this year's overlap with the Superfinal had dealt a heavy blow to this women's final. Thus, Oksana Gritsayeva, Alina Kashlinskaya, Marina Nechaeva, Alisa Galliamova, Anastasia Bodnaruk, Aleksandra Goryachkina could have taken part in the Khanty-Mansiysk battle, but, for obvious reasons, have opted for St. Petersburg, where the last prize is slightly less than that of Kovanova’s gold and slightly more than Tomilova’s silver.  

The Saratov grandmaster got into the final from the candidates’ list, and, as is often the case, the last person to jump into the train is the first to step down upon arrival. However, it has taken Kovanova as many as six finals to at last triumph in the competition. Let’s recall that she first made it into the finals back in 2010... Our congratulations!  

Somewhat upset takers of other prizes were brought by chief arbiter Mikhail Krjukov and linesman Nikolai Stepanenko to the glacial town of Khanty-Mansiysk. The New Year's capital of Russia is so beautiful that any failures are committed to oblivion before long! 

Photos by D. Kryakvin and N. Stepanenko